UK TOUR 2015 by Jordan Matthews
Happy New Year to all of you lovely folks! Now that the christmas trees have returned to their rightful places, collecting dust in the attic for another 11 months, and the tedious questions of “Do you think we should keep these fairy lights up on the mantlepiece all year?” being ignored by husbands across the world; we’re faced with the groggy, semi-hungover, unsure-as-to-what-day-of-the-week page of the calendar that most of us want to bypass, called January.
New years of course bring new events, but I thought I’d shake things off a little bit by recapping what went on in December. The first few weeks of the month were sought with some cool challenges for Dan, Chris, Will and I as we set off for our December tour as The Dan Chapman Quartet.
First on the list was Bristol, where we spent a few nights and played in the recently relocated Mr. Wolfs, with support from Tommy Smith and the lovely French songwriter, Cécile, who was promoting her slick new EP, Ten Past Twelve. We really enjoyed the acts and the venue was super hospitable.
After that we headed to Birmingham to play an open ended set at Actress & Bishop. Situated in spot made famous due to being where “The last public hanging took place in Birmingham.” Made evident by a proudly polished golden plaque on the side of the venue. An eery start to a night that encountered the first of many questionable hotdogs consumed in the tour.
The next gig was Manchester, which I was certain at the time would have been the craziest night of the tour (turned out I was much mistaken!) We played in Dulcimer, a place in which we found some insanely cool humans. First off there was Max Hammond. This kid was a total nutter, and one of the best dudes I met on the tour! That evening we had the slight, by which I mean HUGE issue on our hands in that we had nowhere to stay and looked like we’d have to somehow fit 4 guys, a drum kit, a piano, a Marshal stack, bass amp, 4 guitars, all of our gear, food, bags, and Will’s afro in the back of a Ford Transit; then after playing a real life game of Tetris on “Insanity Difficulty” try to get some sleep before a long drive to Newcastle the next day. Luckily for us, our first support slot was Max. He kindly put us up for the night where we partied until 5am or so, recreating our set in an in-house gig, with Dan picking up a hollow body guitar from somewhere, Will managing to acquire a bass guitar, Chris playing on a crazy midi-style synthesiser with padded drum beats, and myself being given a couple of wooden spoons and some kitchen utensils to make drum noises on. That night will go down in my mind as one of the coolest gigs and spontaneous afterparties ever.
It was an ongoing joke for us travelling southerners that each place we visited, being further up the country, got colder and colder. This joke got pretty extreme when we turned up in Newcastle to a white-out snow session in what seemed to us to be like a polar expedition. Fortunately for us though, we were greeted by possibly the nicest people on the planet, the Sandwith Family. I honestly can’t say enough about these guys but they were epic on every level possible, and Great-Googley-Moogley could they throw a party! We were gigging at an event in aid of restoring St. Andrew’s Church in Dalton-le-Dale. This was an utterly beautiful gig in the church itself. Alongside us were some phenomenally talented musicians which I urge all of you guys reading this to check out. First of was a girl who we had the absolute pleasure of spending a lot of time with while we were up in Freezer-Country, Ani Sandwith. I got a copy of her outstanding EP, Things We Have To Do, which you folks should seriously check out! Next up was 3 At Sea, a trio of incredible musicians with outstanding harmonies, joined for the night by a fantastic string section. Their EP, The Long Way Round is available on their website. Then before ourselves was the phenomenon of Paul Lidell, whose work is practically a live, one man orchestra, and we were totally dreading having to follow him! He also has a few albums up on his site to check out.
The night was immense. And as if it couldn’t have gotten any better, then came the Sandwith farmhouse. The afterparty was a brilliant night filled with the most incredible people whom I could talk about for days. A thank-you, so large it can’t be put into words, to everyone up in that neck of the woods for being the pinnacle of our tour.
From then we made our way home to warmer climates. The first stop being in Nottingham at quite easily the most hipster place I’ve ever seen. But hell, that place was awesome! Rough Trade is the haven that any hipster could possibly dream of. The downstairs is a vinyl record store crossed with a boutique book shop which also has a built in photo booth. The upstairs is a venue that also had prescreenings of independent skate movies being played before our set; the furniture is all made from reclaimed chip board and old craft beer kegs, there’s intriguing jazz covers of classical music playing over the many speakers coming from vinyl decks; all the male staff have beards and all females have their hair cut in obscure angles, the bar has a million types of coffee along with independent craft beers, and the whole place smells of mulled wine. Oh yeah, there’s also a wall mounted electric bicycle pump on the outside for any hipster in need of inflating their fixed wheel bike tyres.
This gig we were joined again by our friend, John Coats, who also supported us for our Manchester slot. John is a hell of a dude, who also runs his own business as a bespoke furniture maker called Dovetail and Scribe. He has some outstanding creations and helped Dan out hugely in gearing up our van for the tour.
Finally it was time for the Cornwall leg of the tour. The first being at The New Inn in Par. This was a cool little venue that kicked out a hell of a sound with our renegade master, Ash Cornfield working the desk for us. This was the only gig of the tour where the owners had us all sign the gig poster after we’ve played (although there was an indian restaurant in the Sunderland area who insisted on taking our photos after we ate, believing we were a famous rock band, wanting us to be displayed alongside a similar shot of Noel Gallagher eating there).
Last date on the list was somewhere that’s a recurring personal favourite location of ours. St. John’s Church in Truro. I’ve talked a lot about this place in previous posts so I’ll try and spare the soppiness of how mesmerising this venue is, but let’s just say it didn’t fail to disappoint. Another humbling event in an outstanding location, playing alongside some mesmerising musicians with help from two of the greatest engineers in Carey Davies and Ash Cornfield that made the church sound like the heavens were opening. Samuel Howard supported us again after our gig together in Par. You can catch a video of him performing his song, S.O.S at the church by clicking right HERE. He also has a new full length, called Out Of The Shadows. Also on support was Gareth Lee & Annie Baylis, who are a super polished duet with razor sharp harmonies, playing a wide array of instruments which complimented the atmosphere of the room to perfection.
There’s so much more about this venture I could have rambled on about; places we’ve seen, people we’ve met, things we’ve done, and laughs we’ve had. But in the interest of keeping the remaining readers who haven’t already fallen asleep from doing the same, I’ll just finish by saying thank you to everyone who we’ve met along the way and made it one hell of a way to close out 2015.
Published by Jordan Matthews at www.jordanmatthewsdrummer.com